Covid jab victims in fight for justice

Campaigners have blasted the Government compensation scheme for vaccine damage as “unfit for ­purpose” and want it reformed. It comes as hundreds of Britons who say the Covid-19 jab caused them to suffer serious side effects have been rejected for a payout. Campaigners believe the 44-year-old Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS) is failing applicants.

It is designed to provide a one-off, tax-free ­payment of £120,000 for ­families and individuals left bereaved – or at least 60 percent disabled – due to a vaccination.

But individuals and families who say they have been adversely affected by a coronavirus jab have told the Daily Express the 60 percent disability threshold is too high and is stopping their claims for damages.

Their fight is backed by ­politicians including Tory MP Danny Kruger.

The scheme has also been hit by a backlog in the wake of the pandemic.

Campaigners say there have at times been as few as “eight” medical ­assessors overseeing the process, managing nearly 4,000 Covid vaccination injury applications. They are backed by the Express Justice for Jab Victims.

Freedom of Information figures show just 878 cases – only one in four – had been assessed as of February 8.And only 44 claims totalling more than £5million have been paid so far.

Mobile home business owner Mark Kerry, 50, suffered a c­ardiac arrest and brain haemorrhage two weeks after his first AstraZeneca jab in March 2021.

He had developed ­vaccine-induced Thrombotic Thrombo­­cytopenia (VITT), a rare condition combining clotting and low blood platelets.

Surgeons saved his life by performing a thrombectomy to remove a blood clot. But the grandfather of two now ­suffers “constant” headaches and fatigue and takes medication to prevent further seizures.

His application for compensation under the VDPS was rejected last December as his disability was classed at only 15 percent – ­primarily because he can no longer use three fingers on his left hand.

His wife Melanie, 50, said their case had been “brushed under the carpet”. She added: “Mark may be on medication for the rest of his life.

“But they don’t think he should be compensated for that when they admit that the vaccine caused this.”

Claire Hibbs, 49, also developed VITT, but was refused because her disablement was 16 to 25 percent. The former airline operations officer is now medically retired from the job she loved due to migraines, chronic fatigue and brain fog.

She says she also developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Claire’s VDPS report, seen by the Express, states the AstraZeneca jab caused blood clots but not her chronic fatigue and migraine “though it is acknowledged some tiredness may be associated with VITT”. Her symptoms were partly attributed to a history of migraines, the menopause and “ongoing stresses at work”.

The mum of two said: “Solicitors told me I wouldn’t reach the 60 percent disablement level because I don’t have a brain injury. I haven’t lost a limb, I’m not blind or deaf.” The ­percentage of disablement is based on a decades-old model used to determine industrial accidents.

Sarah Moore, a lawyer supporting families, calls the rules “antiquated, counterproductive and unfair” and criticised long VDPS waiting times.

Figures show by February 8, more than 327 claimants had waited more than 12 months for a decision, with 81 people waiting at least 18 months.

Claimants have also told Ms Moore of misplaced autopsy reports, medical records and photographs. She said: “These delays and failings by the VDPS add very real insult to the ­injuries and grief applicants are already having to deal with. Other countries are processing applications for vaccine-injured citizens more quickly and efficiently.”

Meanwhile, the Express heard a recording from last October in which a claimant asks a VDPS phone operator if there are “just eight medical assessors” in total.

The operator replies: “Yeah, that’s around the figure.”

The NHS Business Services Authority, which runs the scheme on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care, told the Express that medical assessments were conducted by a third-party and the numbers of assessors was “flexible to meet the needs of ­the scheme”.

It estimated there was “a pool of approximately 40 trained assessors” for one particular week in November 2022.

Last year NHS Business Services contracted claims management firm Crawford & Company to process between 1,500 and 1,800 claims in its first year. Prior to the Covid ­crisis, the VDPS processed about 100 applications annually.

The Express has also seen internal NHS Business emails from last October stating employees are “under pressure from DHSC to see an increase in throughput”. One email says “ministers are raising questions” about the speed of claims being processed and “we now need to see a steady flow of completed claims”.

Bedbound Simon Clark, 47, is still waiting for his VDPS outcome almost two years later.

The father of four developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare debilitating neurological condition that causes paralysis, severe pain and numbness, after having his AstraZeneca jab in March 2021.

He spent three months in intensive care and is left with a form of the condition called Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy. He was recently hospitalised again with multiple lung clots. Simon, of Basildon, Essex, said: “I burst into tears, thinking, ‘This is it’.”

He now lives in his downstairs front room. Unable to work and pay his bills, he is on debt relief orders and his wife is receiving counselling support.

Simon added: “My wife is amazing, she does everything for me. She empties my urine bottles every day. It doesn’t feel like a marriage.” He insists his claim is not about money, adding: “It’s about ­recognition. I just want the Government to say vaccines can cause certain conditions and to say ‘we are so sorry and this is what we’re going to do ­about it’.”

Another person, speaking anonymously, called their process “horrendous” and jab-injured people were the Government’s “dirty secret”. They added: “We’re completely different people because of what’s happened to us. This has absolutely traumatised me.” Mr Kruger has written to Health Minister Maria Caulfield saying the VDPS has “failed to manage the influx of claims following the Covid-19 ­vaccination rollout”.

He added: “The eligibility criteria for payments are unnecessarily high. The [DHSC] should review the operation of the scheme, with a view to speeding up claims and widening eligibility criteria for payments.” The DHSC said: ­“We are working with the NHS Bus­iness Services Authority through claims made through the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme as quickly as possible, with a team of caseworkers dedicated to keeping claimants updated.

“All vaccines being used in the UK have undergone robust clinical trials and have met the Medicines and Healthcare products Reg­ulatory Agency’s strict standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.”

As of December 2022, just 59 deaths involving Covid vaccines have been officially recorded.

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